Driving creativity in the age of agency disruption

Why now is the time to rethink the way brands work with creative agencies.

By Antonio Lucio, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, HP Inc. — July 17, 2018

There has never been a more important time for creativity. In the experience age, customers expect curated, relevant and hyper-targeted experiences. Despite having more connected devices than ever, they crave human interactions. And ultimately, they yearn for that sense of wonder that comes from connecting with a true and honest insight.

In a time where everything is a screen and the “internet of things” has become the “internet of everything,” it’s become increasingly difficult to break through to consumers in a consistent and meaningful way. Brands that are not able to create emotional connections will disappear. Without a data-driven direct understanding of the customer journey, products and services will be commoditized as data-rich retail with media platforms simply focused on capturing value.

To understand the customer better than anyone – we must do things differently. To innovate, we need to disrupt. Which is why we are proposing a new model, one that enables brand marketers to better know their customers and encourages agencies to refocus on their creative capabilities.


At HP, we are investing in our core, in-house marketing capabilities that will redefine our agency partnerships. Over the last three years we have built resources and capabilities in data analytics, insight, media strategy and execution, along with attribution modeling. We’ve also built strong ROI capabilities, as well as predictive marketing mix model analyses to help guide our decisions. We believe that outsourcing these functions diminishes our ability to stay connected to our customers.

Know your customers better than anyone

It’s crucial that brands know their customers better than anyone else. Huge sources of first- and third-party data capture relevant customer behavior and media habits across the totality of the customer relationship journey. To understand our customers and compete, we’re building data analytics and insights with AI platforms.

In the era of big data, insight is more important than ever. Finding powerful human truths to drive emotional connections and triggers for immediate action across well-defined customer journeys is key for a competitive advantage.

In the era of big data, insight is more important than ever. Finding human truths to drive emotional connections is key.

All of this helps us create better briefs that articulate exactly what we need from an agency for every project. Now is the time for agencies to invest in creative talent so they can offer the best ideas.

Develop superior media capabilities with reliable brand attribution tools

Brands are taking control of most of the programmatic media buying stack to ensure transparency, enhance viewability and minimize fraud. With the media buying stack already in our wheelhouse, we now directly control the data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform (DSP). Clients also need reliable short- and long-term brand attribution models and tools. Marketing needs to prove its business impact every day by linking efforts to improvement on the top or bottom line.

Use creativity to fuel innovation

Brands need agency partners who can make magic. And only agencies with diverse talent can do that. We’ve evolved, and continue to evolve our culture to reflect the world we live in. We want agencies to do the same. Creative cultures thrive with employees who have perspectives and backgrounds as varied as the projects they work on and the audiences they reach.

Creative cultures thrive with employees who have perspectives and backgrounds as varied as the projects they work on and the audiences they reach.

Deep creative capabilities for us will always sit outside of our brand. So, we are asking agencies to invest in their craft. We want to hear creative concepts pitched by skilled talent. We want resonant, fresh storytelling told by that same skilled talent. We want to invest our budgets in the work that truly matters that we cannot get elsewhere: true breakthrough ideas.

At HP, we work with amazing creative agencies including BBDO, FF Creative Community and Giant Spoon. We believe agencies house the best creative talent in the world; they provide the external perspective that clients on their own do not have. Creative agencies have the distance to transcend the numbers and create experiences that amaze our customers across their decision journey.

Reinvent the client-agency partnership

Marc Pritchard, chairman of the Association of National Advertisers and a CMO said, “When close to 70 percent of agency fees are devoted to non-creative resources, something needs to change.” We are inviting our agencies to reinvent our client-agency partnership. Moving forward, we are assuming account planning functions while minimizing funds associated with non-creative functions like account planning and services.

This frees our agencies to dedicate their time, efforts and resources to growing their creative model. We believe agencies will experience a resurgence when they return to their roots and focus on ideas, magical storytelling and content creation.

We’re inviting agencies to build internal environments that enable this. The best creative is worth a premium. Let’s create an environment for creative talent to flourish and be rewarded. We believe that this new model will allow both brands and agencies to achieve our business objectives.

Join us in democratizing and reinventing what the best creative agency model can be.


Follow Antonio Lucio on Twitter at @ajlucio5.